1998 Volkswagen Jetta Review

Used Jetta for sale
List Price Estimate:$380 - $977
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Classic good looks. Great road manners. Optional side airbags. Remarkable powertrain warranty. Free scheduled maintenance for two years or 24,000 miles.
  • Slightly underpowered. Cramped rear seat.

Vehicle overview

Volkswagen's sedan version of the Golf, the Jetta, has always been one of our favorite four-doors. Like most cars conceived in Germany, the Jetta has an uncanny ability to keep the driver in touch with every undulation and irregularity in the road without sacrificing comfort. It has a roomy cabin, logically laid-out controls and displays and zippy performance.

GL, GLS, Trek and GT offer enough oomph to keep most drivers satisfied when equipped with a five-speed transmission. The optional automatic saps what little power the Jetta has to offer, and we don't recommend it. Most drivers who want a Jetta will be of the persuasion that eschews the autobox in favor of rowing their own gears anyway because, let's face it, why buy a VW if you don't enjoy driving?

Driving enjoyment is what the top-of-the-line GLX is all about. Sporting a powerful and compact V6 engine, thick alloy wheels and lowered sport suspension, the GLX is a poor man's BMW 328i. If you have a need for speed, this is the Jetta to buy, but prepare to endure a sore backside. The granite-like side bolsters of the seat cushion are excruciatingly uncomfortable.

This year, modifications are kept to a minimum because an all-new Jetta is due in showrooms for 1999. New wheel covers, fresh paint colors and convenience items are designed to persuade buyers to buy the 1998. A Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) model arrived early in the model year, providing outstanding fuel economy in return for an inconsequential loss in power. Regular four-banger Jettas are a blast once they're moving. Sharp steering response, a taut chassis and a superb driving position combine to make you forget about the wimpy 2.0-liter, 115-horsepower engine under the hood.

Reliability has been a problem with Volkswagens in the past. Current Jettas come with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty that backs up the powertrain, while free roadside assistance and scheduled maintenance are provided for the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership.

Not that you couldn't afford to fix it once in a while. The sporty midlevel GT (loaded with antilock brakes, power sunroof, premium sound, air conditioning, cruise control and side airbags) doesn't crack the $19,000 barrier. Prices like these make the Jetta very competitive with the Dodge Stratus, Ford Contour and Honda Accord. The top-level GLX undercuts premium V6-powered German sedans by thousands of dollars, without sacrificing performance, features or that Teutonic feel. Sign us up.

1998 Highlights

The TDI has finally arrived. New wheel covers and colors are offered, while remote keyless entry makes it easier to lock and unlock the Jetta. GLX models have new one-touch up power windows with pinch protection.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1998 Volkswagen Jetta.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4 out of 5 stars
98 VW TDI
punta,01/03/2013
TDi 4dr Sedan
240,000 miles of saving me fuel,,,bought new for 13,9999 saved more of the purchase price in fuel saving over the past 14 years...This vech. has been great,,average.. mpg 47...orig, fuel filter,,clutch...only replaced timing belt 3,,times changed the oil every 7500 miles,,...and tires....that is it...Liability insurance and just drive it...Why over do the maintance....Don't let the dealerships take your hard earn money....Good diesel fuel goes a long ways in these motors....No interior parts have broke yet...Note this car has never been garaged... Basic Jetta tdi,,roll up windows,,5 speed,,cruise,No AC,,I live in the Northwest...Get real,,this is all anyone needs...
4 out of 5 stars
Great all around vehicle
Dan G,01/30/2010
TDi 4dr Sedan
Fun to drive, reliable and gets 40 mpg city driving, 50+ highway. Trim is poor, out and in. Door, manual door locks, molding, glove box, nobs, all have been broke. Living in Denver, CO, it starts in cold and takes a few miles to warm up - that is diesel, no problem. Runs up to the mountains at speed. With 200K, finally replaced clutch. Lots of cooling hoses which are not easy to replace. German engineering: what are thinking? Frustrating to work on, fortunately, that does not occur very often. ANY work by an independent, German mech costs $$$, parts are outrageously $$$, I know my junk yard guy. NO trouble with engine,fuel, cooling, heating, electric systems (manual windows).
4.88 out of 5 stars
best car i've ever had
char,09/19/2010
TDi 4dr Sedan
bought it brand new, now approaching 240k miles. i really had nothing break, just things that wear out. a couple of years ago i got new shocks so it drives like it's brand new. still on original clutch and rear brakes. actuallly the air conditioner went out this summer. i don't know what went wrong with it. this car exceeded my most optimistic hopes - i couldn't be happier. my last tank i got 48 mpg and i never have to add oil.
3.88 out of 5 stars
Thank You, Can I Have Another
chefbob,07/23/2006
TDi 4dr Sedan
I have this car for eight years now. 227,000 miles later and I am still getting 45 - 50 mpg! I love the car but I hate the dealerships! Even though I have had minor problems...glow plugs, hoses, batteries nothing is ever in stock and takes weeks to get. I have found a local mechanic who works on the diesels and I'm very happy now. Change your oil, timing chain, and get your manifold cleaned at around 100,000 miles along with the innercooler and you will love this car. I'm trying for 300,000 miles as long as I can stay away from the dealership.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger2 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Marginal

More about the 1998 Volkswagen Jetta

Used 1998 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

The Used 1998 Volkswagen Jetta is offered in the following submodels: Jetta Sedan, Jetta Diesel. Available styles include GT 4dr Sedan, Wolfsburg 4dr Sedan, GLS 4dr Sedan, K2 4dr Sedan, GL 4dr Sedan, GLX VR6 4dr Sedan, and TDi 4dr Sedan. Pre-owned Volkswagen Jetta models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 115 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1998 Volkswagen Jetta comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Volkswagen Jetta?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1998 Volkswagen Jettas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1998 Volkswagen Jetta for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1998 Volkswagen Jetta.

Can't find a used 1998 Volkswagen Jettas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 11 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $19,124.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 2 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $23,584.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 6 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $10,703.

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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